Last month Gary Toth spoke at the Complete Streets Forum in Toronto about the symbiotic relationship between the Complete Streets and Placemaking movements. Early on in the talk, posted above in full, Gary points out that a complete street makes travel “safe, comfortable, and convenient” for all modes–but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it overtly provides for each one in its own area. Complete streets can often include flexible or mixed-mode areas (Salt Lake City’s green lanes are a great example), but the focus should be on creating a street that is welcoming to everyone, no matter the mode of travel.
The question at the heart of Gary’s talk is about how we build community through transportation. When talking about streets, “Complete,” he argues, “has got to be about community-building, not just about taking space away from cars.” Efforts to create more complete streets often bump into opposition that claims bike lanes and bump-outs are part of a “war on cars,” and Gary explains how to re-frame the issue as being about creating neighborhoods that are safer and more inclusive: the kinds of places where you feel comfortable letting your child ride ahead a bit when out biking.
If you enjoy the video above and are interested in learning more about how to engage your local transportation agency to start rethinking streets as places, here’s a link to the Citizens Guide to Better Streets, which Gary mentions at the end of his presentation.